There are so many devices used to surf the web that it's hard to keep ahead of it all. Most of the devices used are mobile, and with their display size they require a new way for how content is presented. However, it would be a nightmare if for every device we had to develop a new website. Fortunately, with Responsive Web Design we can adapt the website for any screen size.
Almost everybody wants a website that works with mobile devices, as well as for laptops and be compatible with all screen resolutions. Responsive (Mobile Ready) Web Design (RWD) is a solution to this dilemma.
There are many other solutions available. One solution is to have a separate website for each device, one for mobile phones, tablets and desktops. While, content can be specifically targetted and delivered to each device, it can be a nightmare to maintain. It is also more expensive to develop, and you can be penalised by Google for duplicate content.
Responsive Web Design is all about flexibility
Responsive web design is an approach to the delivery of content in which the page responds to the the environment (screen size and resolution, platform and orientation). At it's heart Responsive Web Design is based on a system of flexible grids that adapt to the device on which it is displayed. To do this it relies on the development and use of sophisticated Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
In the old days of web design (about three years ago!), a web designer would design a single set of design mockups of how the site would look. It would be based on fixed sizing of page elements, including images size and column widths. If you are designing responsively that doesn't work. Now, it is totally flexible. Depending on the device the page is being viewed on images will scale larger of smaller, layout will change from a two or three column layout to a single column. All of this is to enable the page becomes accessible and easily read by the user.
It therefore requires web designers and developers to educate their clients about Responsive Web Design and how design responds, changes and adapts to the environment and circumstances in which it is used. It is also about effectively using content within the confines of small mobile devices.